Matthias Walkner has finished as third quickest on the long 830-kilometer eighth stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally, closing the gap on the provisional event leader who he trails by under four minutes. Toby Price enjoyed another solid stage, bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in sixth place. Kevin Benavides finished as 13th fastest with Danilo Petrucci 25th.
Today’s 395-kilometer special comprised a three-way mixture of sand, dirt, and dunes. With navigation proving less testing than on Sunday’s stage seven, times throughout the front runners were extremely close with the top eight separated by only 10 minutes after close to four hours of racing against the clock.
Making the best use of his later start position, Matthias Walkner pushed hard right from the beginning this morning and was soon working his way through the field. Using his skill and experience, the Austrian was able to successfully complete the stage as third fastest, just over four minutes behind current rally leader Sam Sunderland. Although he will set off near the front on Tuesday’s stage nine, Matthias will start six minutes behind Sunderland and will use the opportunity to chase down his rival and make up those valuable minutes.
Matthias Walkner: “Every day at the moment is critical because you can win or lose so much time on every stage. Thankfully today went well for me, I was able to push all the way from the back. I gave my all out there today – everything I had – so I’m pleased to come away with third place and close in on the overall leader again. There are four more days left to go and with things so close it is more important than ever to complete each stage without making any big mistakes. I’ll do my best to keep focused and concentrate on the days ahead.”
A sixth-place result on stage eight has moved Toby Price one place further up the provisional overall leaderboard to ninth, just over 30 minutes down on the leader. With times closing up at the top of the rankings, and four more long days left to race, the experienced Aussie knows that a podium result is still well within his reach. Earning another favorable start position, for tomorrow’s stage nine, Toby will be looking to further reduce that gap to the leaders and elevate himself higher in the overall standings.
Toby Price: “It wasn’t too bad today. I got through most of the stage pretty well, I did make a couple of mistakes, but it’s hard to be absolutely perfect out there. The liaisons from today have meant it’s been a really long day in the saddle. All-in-all the bike was really good though and I’m ready for another day.”
Setting off as the second rider into today’s special, Kevin Benavides was able to maintain a strong pace despite having to open much of the stage. A small technical issue with his KTM 450 RALLY caused the Argentinian to stop to make a couple of adjustments midway through the special, but he was soon back on track and pushing to make up time. Completing the stage in 13th, Kevin now lies in an impressive sixth overall in the rally standings and will be aiming to further reduce his 14-minutes-and 47-second deficit to the leader on Tuesday’s stage nine.
Kevin Benavides: “I’m really pleased with how I rode today. It’s a little frustrating that a small technical issue cost me some time but thankfully I was able to complete the stage in a good position. I did make a couple of small navigation mistakes too, but on the whole things went well. It’s encouraging that after losing so much time on the first stage I am well within the fight for the top positions, so I’ll stay motivated and do my best again tomorrow.”
Two days into the second week of his first ever Dakar Rally, Danilo Petrucci continues to impress with both his speed and consistency. The former MotoGP™ star was running well inside the top 20 throughout today’s special, only for a small error in the closing kilometers to cost him several minutes and drop him down the order. Happy with his riding, Petrucci now looks forward to tomorrow and another long day on the bike.
Danilo Petrucci: “I’m happy to get to the finish as it was a very, very long day today. From the start I tried to find a good solid rhythm and then attack when it was safe to do so. I was really pleased with my navigation but just towards the end, I found myself in the wrong canyon and I had to turn around to get back on track. It’s frustrating, but it also means I have a strong starting position for tomorrow.”
KTM-supported privateer Mason Klein put in another exceptional performance today, finishing the long stage as fifth fastest. The 20-year-old continues to impress on his debut Dakar with both his speed and impeccable navigation skills. Today’s result places the American 10th overall and as leading rookie.
Provisional Results Stage Eight (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 3:48:02
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 3:50:55 +2:53
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:52:13 +4:11
4. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:54:46 +6:44
5. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 3:56:10 +8:08
6. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:56:41 +8:39
13. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 4:03:04 +15:02
25. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 4:11:56 +23:54
Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 8 of 12 stages
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 27:38:42
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 27:42:27 +3:45
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 27:43:25 +4:43
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 27:44:12 +5:30
5. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 27:53:20 +14:38
6. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 27:53:29 +14:47
9. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 28:11:12 +32:30
10. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 28:14:08 +35:26